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High Court to Deliver Judgment on Sacked Ogbaru Market Leadership Case July 1



By Praise Chinecherem 

The Anambra State High Court sitting in Atani, Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state will on July 1, 2022 determine whether government has the powers in law to sack elected executive of the Ogbaru main market, otherwise called Relief Market, led by Mr Ndubuisi Ochiogu.

This followed a fundamental right application brought before the court by Ochiogu’s counsel, Ben Uzuegbu (SAN) against Dr. Obinna Ngonadi, the State Commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Industry and the Attorney-General of the State.

Ochiogu had in the application averred that the state government had no powers to  remove him as the chairman of the market without giving him a fair hearing over some trump-up allegations levelled against him.

The presiding Judge, Justice Alexius Okuma, had earlier granted an exparte order directing that the status quo ante bellum be maintained in the leadersip of the market until the determination of the substantive suit.

Ochiogu, through his counsel, said no sooner than the ministry received the order of the court than it “impudently and without regard to due process and rule of law wrote a letter of suspension of the election of the Ogbaru Main Market Traders Association.”

It was learnt that when hearing on the  matter came up on June 3, 2022, the plaintiff’s lawyer (Uzuegbu) had  complained to the court of the harassment of his client (Ochiogu) by security operatives on the orders of the Commissioner, which  made the judge  to direct that there should be no harassment  and intimidatation of Ochiogu and his executives.

But inspire of the court order, Uzuegbu said, “The  Commissioner came with a team of police men and thugs from the office of Anambra State Markets Amalgamated Traders Association (ASMATA), ransanked the office of the chairman( Ochiogu’s office), turned everything upside down and sacked workers there to instal a caretaker committee led by Obidike.”

At the resumed hearing of the case, Uzuegbu complained of what he called executive lawlessness, saying that the Commissioner had not only constituted the caretaker committee in clear disobedience to the court order that status quo ante bellum be maintained but had gone ahead to continue to harass his client with security operatives.

Uzuegbu further told the court that he had called their lawyer, Loveline Exude, Principal State Counsel to advise her clients to stay action in line with court order to no avail.

He said it was worrisome that the executive that suppose to obey consequential court orders rather flouted it with impunity, adding that the action was ultra vires, stating that the fact that the matter was in court was  enough for the executive to stay clear from taking any action, talk more of when there was a clear order of the court on the matter.

The SAN  said the Commissioner had no powers in any law to sack Ochiogu and his executive members when the government had not given them opportunity to defend themselves of the purported offences against.

He urged the court to quash the decision of the Commissioner to sack Ochiogu and his colleagues in the executive of Ogbaru Main Market.

A principal state counsel, Loveline Exude, who is the respondents’ lawyer, said the applicants were given enough opportunity to defend themselves on the matter.

The court adjourned the matter to Friday, July 1, 2022 for determination.

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